Go – A Game for the Ages

Go (Baduk in Koreq)is one of the oldest continuously played games in the world. Originating in China and coming to the western world through contact with Japan, Go is a strategy game like no other. It is simultaneously one of the simplest and most complicated board games in existence. The rules can be learnt in less than ten minutes but its was the last game to fall to an AI; AIs have been beating the most skilled Chess players since 1997, but only recently has an AI been able to beat world class go players. This is largely because Go has many, many more possible moves and many, many more possible responses than games like Chess. This is because the stones can be placed anywhere on the board that is not already occupied by another stone.

The rules are simple: stones can be placed on the intersection of lines on the board (as opposed to Chess and Checkers where you place the pieces on the squares. The stones cannot move once they have been placed – this is critical. The goal of the game is to gain territory – any intersections that are surrounded by your count as territory – and whoever has the most wins. It is usually played on a 19×19 board but the board vary from 9X9 to even bigger than 19X19, however such games could last a LONG time.

This is a slightly simplified explanation but if you can read the full rules here. It is far simpler than Chess or Checkers and you will likely be enjoying a game within ten minutes of reading the rules. However it will take a lifetime to master. The Japanese, who generally take Go the most seriously, start training as children and after weeding out the majority, those that show promise go live with a master and study for hours per day. The masters do nothing but train students and play Go; Soseki (a Nobel prize winning author) wrote a wonderful book about an old Master’s last game called The Master of Go. so if you’d like a look into this ancient system, read it.

This is a game I play more or less every day, it kills time like a video game but actually increases your problem solving ability.

Here is a wonderful website for playing online.


One thought on “Go – A Game for the Ages

  1. Pingback: Habits, Routine, and Writing | sitarchia

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